Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests and friends, good evening.
And welcome to this wonderful exhibition that inspires us all to think about peace and reconciliation – a message held so dear by our city.
The Bogside Artists – Tom, William and Kevin – have used their skills to give us a unique set of work that helps to bring people together and makes former ‘enemies’ see each other as neighbours.
These photographs show some of the murals they have created in their home town, alongside historical pictures of the suffering the people went through just a few years ago.
They make people remember the past and the sorrow caused by violence and aggression and in doing that they help to make sure those dark days will not come round again.
Just like the Cathedral Ruins that stand alongside us today.
And like those ruins, the original People’s Gallery, is a part of the city – it is not in a museum or a dusty hall, it is there every day, right in the heart of the community, as a constant reminder that we must do better.
Coventry is the perfect home for this exhibition.
We welcome people from all parts of the world to not just make a new life in our city, but to be a part of one community and we inspire others to do the same.
People of different faiths and with different beliefs can live happily side by side – that is the message of this exhibition and that is why we are so proud to host it in Coventry.
Thank you to the artists and the Cathedral for bringing it to our city.
And thank you for all the work you both do in spreading a message of peace and understanding around our cities and the world – for educating us and challenging us and inspiring us to learn from our past so we can have a better future.
It has been a privilege to see the exhibition today and I am sure it will have an impact on many.
There is lots of work ahead, but through events like this and the dedication and inspiration of people like the Bogside Artists, we can make a difference and help the world to become a better, more understanding and peaceful place for us all.
Coventry Cathedral, 24th May, 2017